TLT’s Table: Three Savory Fruit Ideas for Kids

by Bettina Elias Siegel on July 23, 2014

When the school food policy stuff starts getting really heavy around here, as it certainly has this week, I sometimes like to take a head-clearing break by sharing a recipe or a fun kid/food idea with you.

A while back, I told you how my veggie-averse son (he’s getting better, really!) used to spurn what I thought was a really kid-friendly dish (sweet potatoes mashed with orange zest, butter and brown sugar), but then he surprised me by digging into some burnt (and therefore very bitter) kale chips.  A reader of that post pointed out that my son might just prefer salty, bitter and sour flavors over sweet and so, armed with that advice, I’ve found that both of my kids often eat more fruit if I present it to them in savory or salty dishes.

One example is my attempt to re-create a side dish at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, a place specifically devoted to Mexico City street food.  (Yeah, when you live in Houston, the Mexican food scene is so vast it can get that segmented!)  It was just a simple salad of orange slices, jicama and cucumber and sprinkled with lime juice, salt and chile powder.  My kids aren’t huge cucumber fans, so I left that out and just winged it.  It’s a nice change of pace from plain sliced oranges:

IMG_3492

More recently, I served this beautiful dish at a summer dinner party.  (Well, not this exact iteration — this photo is from Epicurious because my own photo somehow disappeared on my cell phone.)

Photo credit: Sang An / Epicurious

Photo credit: Sang An / Epicurious

It’s just cubed watermelon topped with crumbled, sharp feta and shreds of fresh basil. (Recipe here.) At the party I set aside a plate of plain sliced watermelon for kids, but my son (consistent with that TLT reader’s insight) preferred this “grown-up” version and I even wound up making another batch for him later in the week.

And another way I work fruit into savory dishes is via a recipe from the wonderful Katie Morford of Mom’s Kitchen Handbook.  I adore her book, Best Lunch Box Ever, and in it she suggests packing kids a sandwich filled with Gruyere cheese and apple slices and then pressed in a waffle iron.  My kids love that version, but sometimes I skip the waffle iron in favor of a traditional frying pan, and I always add some spicy arugula, which contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the apples.  (I’ve also subbed out thin slices of pear for the apple.)  Here’s a picture I took before the sandwich went into the pan:

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 8.40.06 AM

I typically serve these sandwiches with homemade soup and, honestly, my kids would eat this dinner every week if they could.

So, do you ever do the savory/salty fruit thing for your kids?  Share your thoughts — and recipe links! – in a comment below.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna July 23, 2014 at 9:37 am

Yes…similar salad of watermelon, basil, mint, feta, white balsamic vinegar…yum. Can add tomato and cucumber, too. Figs with goat cheese are also a hit.

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Bettina Elias Siegel July 23, 2014 at 11:50 am

I want to eat at your house, Donna! :-)

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Maggie July 23, 2014 at 2:29 pm

I don’t have children to cook for, but I like fresh pineapple with Tajin Classico Seasoning – Chili peppers, salt, dehydrated lime juice are the listed ingredients – sounds like your orange salad!

And I just noticed the label says it’s distributed by Mexilink, Inc located in Houston TX. :-)

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Bettina Elias Siegel July 23, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Maggie: I think my son once told me that he has friends at school who bring little packets of that seasoning to sprinkle on their fruit at lunch! I need to go look for it – I never knew the name. Thank you! (And I owe you some answers on the prior post – they’re coming.)

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Mom in NJ July 23, 2014 at 5:44 pm

My family loves this salad from Snack Girl. It’s a nice way to add fruit to a meal.
http://www.snack-girl.com/snack/watermelon-salad/

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Bettina Elias Siegel July 23, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Oh, that looks good, Mom in NJ! I’m going to try it.

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Sarah July 24, 2014 at 5:04 am

As I kid I loved the thai snack of green apple slices dipped in a mixture of salt and chilli powder (or paprika if you don’t want it spicy) and now my son loves it too! Green mango is great like this as well.

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Bettina Elias Siegel July 24, 2014 at 8:42 am

Sarah: That sounds so good – like Thai green mango salad. And you’re making me realize that I forgot to mention this spicy, sweet snack, which I love, as does my son. It does have added sugar, though.

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Hanna July 24, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Yum. I’ve made sweet/savory fruit for dinner parties that have kids and adults, and everyone seems to like the combo. Some other ideas – dates filled with goat cheese and sprinkled with sea salt; crackers with apple slices and sharp cheddar; and, of course, apples or bananas with peanut or almond butter.

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Hanna July 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm

P.S. Sweet vegetables, like squash and sweet potatoes, also are good made savory, such as sweet potatoes roasted with cumin, chile powder, paprika and cayenne (e.g. this recipe – http://food52.com/recipes/1691-southwestern-spiced-sweet-potato-fries-with-chili-cilantro-sour-cream)

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Bettina Elias Siegel July 24, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Hanna: I tried that once (chili and lime) but no dice with my son. Maybe he’s just not into sweet potatoes. But the rest of us liked them! :-)

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Hanna July 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Hmm. Maybe try it with butternut squash or rutabaga instead?

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Bettina Elias Siegel July 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Ah, good idea. I’ll report back!

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